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Electronic Augmentation of Traditional Board Games. Final Presentation Clim de Boer MEDIATECHNOLOGY April 26 th 2004. Contents. Introduction Trends in Board Games Possible Electronic Augmentations The Self-Conscious Gameboard Case Study with Settlers of Catan Summary and Discussion.

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Electronic Augmentation of Traditional Board Games

Final Presentation

Clim de Boer


April 26th 2004

Contents l.jpg

  • Introduction

  • Trends in Board Games

  • Possible Electronic Augmentations

  • The Self-Conscious Gameboard

  • Case Study with Settlers of Catan

  • Summary and Discussion

Clim de Boer

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Introduction (I)

  • Modern technology results in (computer) games for individuals

  • Traditional family board games are still popular, sales in Europe and US actually growing

  • No crossover

Clim de Boer

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Introduction (2)

What value can modern technology add to the…

  • social-interactive character

  • excitement / entertainment value

  • usability

  • flexibility

    …of traditional board games?

Clim de Boer

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Trends in Board Games (1)

  • History

    • Backgammon (3000 B.C., Sumaria)

    • Mah Jong (800, China)

    • First deck of cards (1000, Asia)

    • Chess (15th century)

    • Monopoly (1936, US)

Clim de Boer

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Trends in Board Games (1)

  • Market

    • Sales in Europe and US growing since 1995

    • Economic recession, threat of terrorism and war makes people want to “escape” modern society

    • Growth especially in sales of more complex games (targeted at adults)

    • Declining sales for 9 to 15 year old children

Clim de Boer

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Trends in Board Games (2)

  • Games, nowadays…

    • Less influence of luck (dice)

    • Tactics are of growing importance

    • All players compete until the end of the game (as opposed to e.g. Monopoly)

    • The gameboard can be altered before or during a game (e.g. Settlers of Catan)

Clim de Boer

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Trends in Board Games (3)

  • Manufacturers

    • think costs for development and production of electronically augmented board games are to high

  • Game designers

    • need to acquire knowledge of electronics and modern technology, and resources to build prototypes

  • Both parties are looking for possible innovations that modern technology could deliver, but are skeptic because success failed to come until now.

Clim de Boer

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Trends in Board Games (4)

  • Consumers

    • Board games induce nostalgic feelings and are a way to escape the hectic of modern life

    • Modern technology should make games more accessible and heighten their entertainment value

Clim de Boer

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Possible Electronic Augmentations

  • What is Electronic Augmentation?

  • Past and Current Developments

  • Possibilities

  • Disadvantages

Clim de Boer

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What is Electronic Augmentation of a Board Game?

  • Enhancement or extension of a game concept through the incorporation of modern technology

Clim de Boer

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Past and Current Developments

  • Electro (Jumbo, 1953)

  • Dokter Bibber (MB, 1975)

  • King Arthur (Ravensburger, 2004)

Clim de Boer

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Possibilities (1)

  • integrated digital rules

    • error protection/prevention

    • animated game examples

    • electronic teaching

  • randomization (e.g. changing gameboard)

  • automated administrative tasks

    • time, scores, game movements, player statistics

  • audiovisual feedback (high quality)

Clim de Boer

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Possibilities (2)

  • artificial intelligence

    • simulation of players

    • suggestion of moves

  • save/restore game

  • physical feedback

  • cross-media applications

  • communication between game instances

  • transparent added complexity

Clim de Boer

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Possibilities: TOP 3 (survey result)

  • Randomly changing gameboard composition

  • Integrated digital game rules, enabling e.g. automatic error protection and prevention

  • Simulation of additional players

Clim de Boer

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  • Malfunctioning of electronics; repair?

  • Unforeseen situations in pre-programmed game-logic

  • Obscured technology can confuse

  • Increasing selling-prices

Clim de Boer

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The Self-Conscious Gameboard (1)

  • “Self-Conscious” non-philosophical

  • Concept description:“…a gameboard that can recognize the state and composition of all its elements. It can identify these elements and request, set and communicate the state of them.”

Clim de Boer

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The Self-Conscious Gameboard (2)

  • Elements:

    • Controller

    • Game floor

    • Field tiles

    • Game tokens

    • Game control elements

Clim de Boer

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Enabling ‘Self-Consciousness’ (1)

  • Recognizing board state:

    • type of elements

    • rotation of elements

    • position of elements

  • Providing feedback

Clim de Boer

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Game floor






Enabling ‘Self-Consciousness’ (2)

  • Need for contact points (minimized)

  • Research shows:C = 2log( n . R + 1)Where:C : number of contact pointsn : number of recognizable typesR : number of recognizable rotations

Clim de Boer

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Case Study with Settlers of Catan

  • Assess weakness and strengths of concept

  • Existing, successful board game

    • to compare original vs. enhanced

    • game quality is a proven fact

    • focus attention to electronic augmentation

Clim de Boer

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The Game Settlers of Catan

  • Multiplayer board game (best-seller)

  • Players are settlers of uninhabited island

  • Build roads, settlements and cities to earn victory points

  • Resource production controlled by two six-sided dice

Clim de Boer

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Electronic Augmentations (1)

  • Each field tile:

    • Cardboard number is replaced with seven-segment LED display

    • Two-colored LED added

    • Electronic sensor for “Robber”

  • Digital dice function (with selectable chance distribution)

  • Switches for game preferences

Clim de Boer

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Electronic Augmentations (2)

  • Task of distributing number is automated

  • Displayed numeric values randomly change (every 10 minutes / every 10 turns)

  • Tossed number indicated by green LEDs

  • “Robber” connects to board, inhibited payout of resource is indicated by LED turning red

Clim de Boer

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Playing the Prototype

  • Randomization increases excitement and game pleasure

  • Influence on player’s opportunities and strategy

  • Digital dice hardly noticed (points to transparency)

  • Nostalgic feel remains

Clim de Boer

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  • Board game manufacturers are skeptic, but willing to invest resources

  • Important obstacles:

    • Cost of development and production

    • Need for knowledge of technology

  • Technology must be non-obtrusive and provide clear benefits

Clim de Boer

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Thanks for your visit!

  • Paper available

  • Technical Report in LIACS library (TR 2004-05; 80 pages, in Dutch)

  • Acceptance “ICEC 2004” conference pending

[email protected] / www.clim.nl

Clim de Boer